Vote buying: Zenith Bank, MD, Others Face Money Laundering Charges

The 2023 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Oladipupo Adebutu, has been charged for allegedly buying votes during the 18 March elections in the state by the Federal government.

Nigeriacrime.com gathered that in a suit brought by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before an Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta, nine other persons associated with the PDP were also charged.

In a separate suit it filed at the Federal High Court in Abeokuta, the government also charged Zenith Bank and two of its top officials for allegedly aiding Adebutu to commit the alleged offence.

The two suits were filed on Thursday, 2 June, by the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, M. B. Abubakar; Aderonke Imana, an assistant Chief State Counsel, and Sani Bagudu, a Senior Counsel at the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federation, on behalf of the AGF and Minister of Justice.

Others charged alongside Mr Adebutu before the State High Court in Abeokuta are Ogunbona Hammed, Tiamiyu Waliu, Egunsola Owolabi and Sanni Adejoke.

The other defendants are Dare Ogunleye, Dare Adeoye, Dayo Fashina, Wasiu Enololobo, and Malik Akawo.

According to the notice filed by the prosecution, Mr Adebutu and four of the other defendants are currently at large.

In the suit before the Ogun State High Court, the federal government charged Adebutu and the fifth defendant, Adejoke Sanni, with three counts of alleged criminal conspiracy, bribery and undue influence, while the eight others were charged only with the first two counts.

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The charge sheet with No AB/10c/2023, reads: “That you, (the ten defendants) on or about 18th of March, 2023 at Ibara, Ogun State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to corruptly give gifts in the form of verve prepaid cards which had inscribed in them ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement (sic) Scheme for less privileged ‘to induce voters to endeavour the return of PDP Candidates during the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in Ogun state and you thereto committed an offence.

“That you (defendants) on or about 18th of March, 2023 at Ibara, Ogun State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did corruptly give gifts in the form of verve prepaid cards which had inscribed on them ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement Scheme for less privileged’ to induce voters to endeavour the return of PDP Candidates during the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in Ogun State and you thereby committed an offence.

“That you Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu (now at large), Adult Male of Kessington House, Iperu, Ogun State between February-March, 2023 at Ogun State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did provide 200,000 prepaid verve cards loaded with N10,000 (ten thousand naira) which had inscribed on them ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement Scheme for less privileged” to corruptly influence votes to vote for PDP Candidates (Including yourself) during the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in Ogun state and you thereby committed an offence.

“That you, Sanni Adejoke, Adult Female of No 1 Owoseni Street Lausa Olanbe junction, Ifo, Ogun State on or about 18th of March, 2023 at Agbara, Ogun State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did have in your possession 131 prepaid verve cards which had inscribed on them ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement Scheme for less privileged ‘to corruptly influence voters to vote for PDP Candidates during the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in Ogun State and you thereby committed an offence.”

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The prosecution listed eight witnesses it plans to call to prove its case. They include a police officer, three officials of the NDLEA and two points of sale (POS) operators.

In the other suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abeokuta, the defendants are Zenith Bank, its Managing Director, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, and the Head of Card Services at the bank, Celestina Appeal.

The charges against them read:

“That you, (Mr Onyeagwu and Ms Appeal) between February 2023 to March 2023 in Ogun State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did fail to report dust transactions which appeared to have no economic justification or lawful objective, in the account of Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu domiciled in Zenith Bank plc. You thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 7(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 and punishable under Section 7 (10) of the same Act.

“That you, Zenith Bank Plc of 278 Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island Lagos, between February 2023 to March 2023 in Ogun State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did fall to verify the identity of its customers carrying out Electoral Financial Transactions on verve cards with the inscription ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement Scheme for less privileged” requiring the customer’s personal information before their issuance and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 37 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015.”

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